Gurkha killed in Afghanistan had followed father

A soldier killed in Afghanistan at the weekend had followed in his father and brother's footsteps by becoming a Gurkha, his family said today.

Rifleman Vijay Rai, from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, died after the checkpoint he was guarding in the Nahr-e Saraj region of Helmand province was attacked with small arms fire on Saturday.



The 21-year-old was the youngest of five and had followed his father and brother as they both served as Indian Gurkhas, while his middle brother is still serving with Indian Gurkhas as a sergeant, his family said today.





In a statement issued through the Ministry of Defence, his family revealed he had phoned them the day before he died.



It said: "He followed his father's and brother's footsteps as his father and elder brother served as Indian Gurkhas and his middle brother is serving with Indian Gurkhas as a sergeant.



"He rang his family a day before he was taken away from us.



"He was very proud to be a Gurkha, and died doing his chosen job. His father and family members are very proud of him."



A gifted sportsman, Rifleman Rai was born in Bhojpur District, Deaurali in the East of Nepal.



After his education, he wanted to continue his family history of military service and after passing Gurkha Selection was enlisted into the British Army in December 2008, aged 18.



He completed his basic training before being posted to 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles in Brunei.



A keen footballer, Rifleman Rai led his intake to victory in the 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles' inter-intake competition before deploying to Afghanistan on his first operational tour of duty, attached to Combined Force Nahr-e-Saraj (South) as part of the 1 RIFLES Battle Group, in April this year.



The 21-year-old had taken over a sentry position guarding a temporary checkpoint on Saturday, when it was were attacked by small arms fire.



He was hit in the opening burst and, despite medical care, died later of his wounds.



Today colleagues paid tribute to the 21-year-old, speaking of his desire to follow his family military tradition.



Lieutenant Colonel Fraser Rea, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, said: "Rifleman Vijay was tough, loyal, uncomplaining and utterly professional.



"He had a ready smile, a big heart and loved his sport and music.



"He was deeply committed to his fellow soldiers in Amboor Company and to the local Afghans whose lives he strove to improve during the tour.



"He came from a military background and was immensely proud to have been selected for service in the British Army.



"He was a talented young man with vast amounts of promise. Although only two years into his own military career, he had established himself as a leader amongst his own peer group and on the sports pitch, where he excelled."



Major Nick Thom, Officer Commanding A (Amboor) Company, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, said Rifleman Rai was five-and-a-half months into his first tour of duty and had demonstrated "true grit and courage" on a number of occasions.









Major Yambahadur Rana MVO, Gurkha Major, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles said: "He was an immensely proud Rifleman from a strong military background, following his father and two elder brothers' footsteps who all served with the Indian Army.



"He epitomised the very best qualities expected of a Gurkha soldier. He will be sorely missed by all within the Battalion and his memory will endure in our hearts."



Defence Secretary Philip Hammond added: "Rifleman Vijay Rai was clearly a dedicated, professional and well loved soldier who tragically lost his life while protecting his comrades.



"My thoughts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of this proud Gurkha at this most difficult time."



The death takes to 383 the number of British forces personnel or MoD civilians



killed while serving in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
tech
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
News
video
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - North West London, £35-40k

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant (ACCA / CIMA, ...

Recruitment Genius: Female Care Team

£11 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A 10 year old girl who has profound an...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Manchester - Urgent Requirement!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development Manager ...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore